Reflections on “meaning” and “meaninglessness” in post-Kleinian thought
Although not a psychoanalytic concept as such, "meaning" has always been central to the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. Some of the confusion around the term "meaning" in the psychoanalytic field, as opposed to, say, in the linguistic, philosophical, or literary, is that the more ordinary use of it, as in "this means that", is quite the opposite of what Bion and Meltzer were trying to get at. In Bion's way of thinking, "meaning" finds a much more internal position. Bion's epistemological theory, puts emotion at the heart of meaning, was the outcome of years of work with very disturbed patients, suffering psychotic or schizophrenic illnesses. He observed that frequently, in these states, there was an extreme aversion to emotion itself, together with decimating attacks on any mental interaction or linkage that might make such emotional experience possible.